Pre-schoolers in Hout Bay and St Helena Bay will benefit from the Oceana Foundation’s International Mandela Day food packaging initiative, as employees based at the company’s group offices did 67 minutes of service in honour of former President Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, was officially declared by the United Nations as the Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009.

Although Mandela Day is on July 18, Oceana employees got a head start by gathering at Oceana House in Cape Town on July 15 to pack 19 440 meals. These meals will benefit 310 learners at eight Early Childhood Development Centres – four in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay and four in Laingville, near St Helena Bay.

In three sessions lasting 67 minutes each, Oceana employees packed 19 440 meals consisting of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a mixture of 21 vitamins and minerals. The Oceana Foundation will however provide the funding for 43 200 meals in total.

“Making a difference to the lives of others is vital in celebrating Madiba’s legacy. Last year our employees packed 17 496 meals, funded by the Oceana Foundation for Stop Hunger Now (SHN) and in 2012 we packed 14 688 meals. Our aim is to increase our contribution each year,” said Oceana CEO Francois Kuttel.

“Food security continues to be a critical need in South Africa and we are pleased to continue contributing to the communities where, as a major employer, we are a part of daily life.”

“The SHN SA 2014 Mandela Day theme is ‘Meals in Memory’ and our meal packaging events address one of government’s triple challenges – poverty – and we hope to preserve the country’s next generation of leaders by assisting our young talent through their school years,” said SHN CEO Barry Mey.